altA lot of people, myself included, have trouble letting go of old possessions. Something you’ve had for a long time is kind of like an old friend or family member that you’ve always counted on. Because I tend to project humanity on inanimate objects, the idea of replacing, recycling or otherwise getting rid of something I’ve had for a while borders on immorality. 

I once had an ’85 Chevy Nova that saw me through a multitude of accidents, two of which actually totaled the car.  The second time I had it hauled in, the mechanic asked, “Gee, didn’t we fix this thing a year ago?”  Even at this juncture, I still wasn’t ready to let go, so I rebuilt the engine. Eventually, my family did an intervention and I was finally able, reluctantly, to move on. However, I managed to transfer my inanimate allegiance to something else.

Way back in twenty aught seven, I decided to leave the United States to work in South East Asia for a couple of years. Before I left, I felt the need to buy a laptop computer. So I visited the then thriving Circuit City, where I purchased a Toshiba Laptop  with Windows Vista, 120 GB hard drive and a 1 GHz processor for roughly $1,000.

I thought I was getting a bargain. 

altDuring my time overseas my laptop and I tutored Russians in Jakarta, played Bob Dylan for little old ladies in Bangkok, chatted with friends in Germany and friended countless people I knew but barely spoke to in Louisville. I put together slide shows of South East Asia that I later uploaded to YouTube. I kept the computer close to my bed so I could stream NPR while I went to sleep. My laptop was my teddy bear, my security blanket ... my silicon companion.

Eventually I returned to Louisville and learned that while I was away, Circuit City – along with a host of other businesses – had joined the choir invisible. Louisville had also endured windstorms, ice storms and floods, and computers were morphing into I-pads and smart phones.  As far as I was concerned, it didn’t matter.  My trusty Toshiba, now missing several keys like so many front teeth, was still chugging away.  That is, until ...

One afternoon, I microwaved some fish with garlic and melted butter. I took it to the front room where I thought I would play a little Farmville while I ate lunch. Bear in mind that my lunch was in my hand and my laptop was, of all places, in my lap. Suddenly the screen went blank and a yellow light started blinking where it would normally have been blue. It was then I noticed that the keyboard was covered with a yellow, gooey substance ... I felt as if I had been texting while driving and had just run into the back of a truck. I’ll spare you the gory details of what happened next.

I eventually got an Acer, but I couldn’t bring myself to throw out or recycle the Toshiba. One day, I decided to fire it up just to see what would happen, and VOILA!  Despite a motherboard encrusted with dried garlic butter, it was STILL WORKING! I was right! I did get a bargain! Yes, I’m very pleased, but maybe my inanimate allegiance would be better served by something a bit more animate. 

It might be time for a cat ...

Paul McDonald is a writer, educator and graduate student who thinks too much. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .